Getting the Right Message

Morunda recently surveyed 109 managers at 29 pharmaceutical companies and we asked them to give their opinion on firms within their industry.

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We asked them the following four questions:

  1. How would you rank the company’s pipeline?

  2. How would you rank the company’s management?

  3. How would you rank the company’s culture?

  4. What is your perception of the company salary structure?

This survey’s aim is not to demean or denigrate firms within the industry (109 is a relatively small subset) but rather to offer insight into how the candidate market perceives various pharmaceutical companies and to demonstrate the importance of messaging. Companies have limited time and opportunity to reach the best candidates on the market. Perception is important and can mean the difference between landing top talent and not.

Figure 1

The top six companies in terms of pipeline (Figure 1) are Chugai-Roche, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, MSD, and Pfizer, with over 50% of responders believing their future pipeline is strong. Interestingly, AbbVie, which has a robust pipeline with oncology and is expected to launch in the near future, did not rate as high as one might have imagined, with only 34% ranking the pipeline as above average.

It is clear that specialty pharma, such as Alexion, Lundbeck, and CSL, need to ensure they have a strategy in place internally and externally to communicate the right message to current and future talent.

In terms of management (Figure 2) and culture (Figure 3), Chugai-Roche tops the list also. However, regarding perception of their pay structure (Figure 4), this company does not do as well, with only a quarter of participants rating it highly.

In similar surveys conducted over the years, Takeda has always come out on top in many (if not all) categories. Here, nearly 40% of respondents believe their pay structure is favorable, but only 27% think their pipeline is strong; its once-famous management appears not to have the clout it once did, with less than 30% deeming it as a strength. It should be said that Takeda has gone to great lengths to course correct by hiring outside talent and investing in key Pharmaceutical products. It is without a doubt still the benchmark for many in Japan’s Pharma industry.

Figure 2

Figure 3

So, why is this information important? Recruiting top talent is about selling and marketing the company in the best possible way to a selective candidate pool. However, searching for talent is only one piece of the puzzle. A candidate’s decision process does not happen in a vacuum.

For example, a prospective talent is likely to seek out former colleagues to discuss possible opinions that reinforce his/her beliefs, whether positive or negative. These beliefs determine whether a candidate is interested in pursuing a company or not. Most people are not even aware of their beliefs about an employer and, if pushed, will refer to someone they know who works or has worked at the company in question.

The challenge, then, is to offer the “right story.” Often, adverse beliefs lack substance. Companies might need to dispel those beliefs and offer an alternative narrative. First, though, they must understand the thought process of the market and offer quantifiable examples of an alternative paradigm.

Companies have a unique opportunity to market to candidates. For example, a corporation may hire over 40 managers in one year. The company would need to interview multiple candidates taking hundreds of hours. What is the message being conveyed to candidates? Are candidates simply being interviewed for the position at hand? Or, does the company embrace those hours as an opportunity to market and promote themselves as an employer of choice?

Obviously, not all companies are hiring 40 managers. However, the point here is that the CSL or Ferring pipelines may not be seen as strong by the market simply because they are small companies and the market does not have the necessary information. The importance of education and information sharing becomes even more important to the market.

In conclusion messaging in vital to hire the best talent, keep the message tight and partner with companies who have a deep knowledge and track record in the industry to ensure you are attracting the best available talent in the market.

Figure 4

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